Genuine Worship Part One

I recently read an article that discussed what it is that the young un-churched millennials are looking for in churches today. Of the several things that was listed one of them was genuine worship. The question I have is why aren’t our churches looking for this as well? it seems to me that the average church that is supposed to be Christ centered has become consumers of the activities that go on on the pulpit area rather than worshipers of God. I have talked to some well meaning Christians who even say that what goes on in the church on Sunday Mornings is not nor should it be worship. I certainly beg to differ on that one.

I am concerned that we have lost sight of what true biblical worship is, when and where we are supposed to engage it it, and how to conduct ourselves while we do it. Jesus said the Father is always looking for those to worship Him in Truth and Spirit (John 4:24). The author of Hebrews wrote that God expects genuine or even acceptable worship (Hebrews 12:28) By these verses we should understand that how we worship is not left open to our personal whims. Cain tried to worship God his own way and God refused it. Cain did not respond well to God’s refusal and it got him in a bunch of trouble with God. The Israelites tried to worship God their own way while Moses was on the mountain and they also found themselves in some trouble with God.

Yet we think, even in light of scripture, that we can just come to God in worship however we want. It seems that some churches have lost any expectation of God’s power and presence in our worship services so they look to an exciting show to be put together on the stage. This creates a consumer mentality of worship. The end result of this, other than God is not really worshiped, is that if the show is not good enough then people claim they aren’t being fed so that go look for another church where they get what they want.

If we do not worship God daily and then show up to church on Sunday expecting a show because we do not know what it looks like then God’s power and presence are obvious then our churches create an atmosphere of disingenuous worship and those looking for it will know it. To bad our regular church people do not.

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No the Christian Right did not transform evangelicalism from a religious to a political movement.

I have grown weary of the misrepresentations of differing views in politics but even more so among fellow Christians. In an article posted over at the Gospel Coalition found here there are several statements made that unfortunately completely misrepresent the so called “religious right”. No the Christian Right did not transform evangelicalism from a religious to a political movement. It is these kind of misrepresentations that give Christianity a bad name. There is nothing true about this and there is no foundation on which to make such a claim.

What the religious right has done is to get into the public square a deal with issues that were being ignored as the radical left of the sixties were working to take over government, education, & public radio and television. They were getting their message out. The country was hearing from them their ideology and underhanded misrepresentations of what was really going on in the world so as to create a public perception that would make the political environment more suitable for their agenda. Men like Jerry Falwell came along and stood up to this. James Dobson also stayed in the public eye dealing with biblical principles that were held on to for many years in this country and were being eroded by “free love”, & Communism both of which are anti-God.

The premise of such accusations as we have become a political movement and are no longer a religious one is based on the idea that Christians should not engage or be outspoken about biblical principles or politicians who do and do not hold to them. These same people suggest that if you do one you corrupt the other. None of this is true.

So what is really behind all of this hubub? For starters it seems that in trying to tie everyone together under “Evangelicals” they work to show that the “religious right” was a small aberration with a big mouth that has never been representative of Evangelicals. The problem is the term “Evangelicals” is so broad a term that it encompasses some questionable teachers and therefore is not a true representation of the Christian community. Guys like Tony Campolo, Rob Bell, writers like William Young & Sara Young who are questionable at best. I could go on and on but to draw this down to a clear line of understanding it is the battle between the liberals and conservative. Yes, there are some in between who have sipped the liberal kool-aid on participating in our public square and political process. Never the less these are the ideologies that are at work here.

No, the Christian Right has not turned the religious into the political, ever. Saying so denies that the issues being raised by the Christian Right are biblical ones and it falsely accuses Conservative Christians of abandoning Christian principles. We need more honest representations of each other. The world is watching.

Why voting for Donald Trump is not a morally good choice.

Recently Wayne Grudem, Seminary Professor and Bible commentator, wrote an article entitled “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice”. I have the utmost respect for Dr. Grudem and appreciate his commentaries. I was rather disappointed to read his article which is posted over at townhall.com. There are several reasons in which I find myself at odds with Dr. Grudem.

Dr. Grudem begins early on in his article referring to Trump as a “flawed candidate”. I do agree that all candidates are flawed. Anyone not wanting a flaw in their political candidate is living in a dream world. The problem with this point, Dr. Grudem makes, is that he either ignores the long and illicit history of Trump or he is completely unaware. Trump, much like Bill Clinton, is known for his philandering and promiscuous activities. In his book “The Art of the Deal” Trump wrote:

“If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller,”

Not only has Trump engaged in these ungodly activities but he has bragged publicly about them. This shows he has no shame, repentance, or concern for the damage and hurt he has taken part in. It shows he has no sense of what a family should be and no concern over their destruction. I would argue that Wayne Grudem needs to consider that fact that when our families are weak so will our churches, communities, and country be weak. When we elect leaders who have no moral values concerning family then we allow and even take part in the break down of the God established nuclear family and the continued destruction of our country and American founding.

If we are going to vote for someone like Donald Trump or even Bill Clinton then we need to remain silent on the homosexual and transgender issues so as not to be hypocrites. Christians need to be consistent in order to have an effective gospel message. Voting for Donald Trump makes us inconsistent, it makes us hypocrites, and it does effect the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Trump also has built and has his name on Casinos which have strip clubs in them. Aside of the immorality of the Casinos themselves and aside from the immorality of strip clubs, sex trafficking and prostitution are often associated with strip clubs. I do not think Trump would intentionally engage in or allow the latter activities but you have to question the moral character of one who would engage in that which is so closely associated with those horrific crimes.

Further, in 1990 Trump appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine. Given his philandering, strip club owning,  and lack of concern for an industry that often enables sex trafficking and prostitution we see a pattern of behavior that should give any Christian solid concern. Do we set aside the moral character of our political candidates because of other reasons? What possible good reason could we do such a thing? I will posit to you the following.

The reason I believe Christians are willing to overlook the long and illustrious  history of illicit behavior from Donald Trump is fear. This is due to the many conversations I have had with Christians who express anger, animosity and in some cases the use of ugly rhetoric when they think someone who is a Christian, conservative, or otherwise just not going to vote for Hillary, may vote for someone other than Trump. There is no doubt the stakes are high this election cycle. We have just gone through a long eight years of the Obama administration who ignores the rule of law, works to by pass the constitutional checks and balances created by the founders of this country, and has a seemingly strong hatred for American Judaeo Christian values.

For America to have to endure another single term of a President with very similar problems places the fear for our country into the hearts of many Americans. We are looking at possible Supreme Court nominees, the permanency of Obama care, gun control laws and many other issues that Americans find near and dear to their hearts. The threat of a Clinton presidency is real and quite scary. However, we need to slowdown, take a breath and think this through rationally rather than emotionally.

Folks we have got to stop voting for political candidate simply because they are espousing the right agenda. Moral character has to be priority and must always come first. After we have determined their moral character is what it should be then we listen to their agenda. When we put the cart in front of the horse we will have wreck. People voted for Bill Clinton in that exact way and look at the scandal after scandal he put the country through. I would argue that Trump is most likely worse in moral character than Bill Clinton.

Lastly, I want to address the idea that if you are looking to vote for someone other than Hillary and you vote for someone other than Trump then your vote helps Hillary. This is a cheap shot and continues to ignore that moral character matters. I was rather disappointed to see Dr. Grudem take part in such poor argumentation. This country was founded on being able to vote our conscience. It amazes me that as Christians and as conservatives we would demonize those who choose to vote their conscience. I would argue that placing a candidate, that has little to no moral character into the position of candidate of the President of the united states creates the problem. Not refusal to vote for them.

Christians we need to make moral choices and not fearful choices. We have a growing corrupt political system simply because we discount moral character and find political agenda more important. This is not what our country was founded on and it is not what God has called us to do.

1 Peter 1:15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (ESV)

When Slaughtering Human Beings Gets A Standing Ovation by Americans

As reported by Life News there was a rather “grand” gathering of people in New York City recently for the Robert. F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope awards. During the far left extreme self aggrandizing night there was much applause and a standing ovation for Planned parenthood’s Cecil Richards who is the current CEO. The reason for this utilitarian spectacle is that there was a recent shooting in one of the PP facilities.

PP slaughters unborn children daily in this country. This is yet another blight on American history where unborn children are ripped apart limb by limb, sucked out of the womb, partially delivered and then a vacuum tube rammed in the back of the skull and the brains sucked out, as well as various other atrocities in America.

Giving a standing ovation to an organization that does this to human beings is beyond words. The level of depravity that allows this cannot be described accurately. Shame on abortionists, politicians, and Americans in general who take part in this slaughter. No wonder God is judging America with leaders like Obama.

Does God Create Evil

There seems to be, in some circles a basic misunderstanding of what evil is. What is often referred to in conversations about evil and its cause is the moral evil. There are a number of contexts in which the word evil is used and the meaning of evil depends on its context like most any word. This also true of scripture and we need to be sure to obtain the proper context when using such words to prop up our favorite doctrines. The word evil can also be used in other contexts like misery, affliction, or calamity. There is a distinct difference between moral evil and affliction or misery people suffer. When discussing this subject we need to make clear which context we are discussing. Scripture is clear that God has not nor does He create moral evil nor is He responsible in any way for it. The Apostle James wrote that God cannot be tempted with evil nor does He tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13). The context here is moral evil.

The Isaiah 45:7 passage is often misused as a proof text to show that God does create evil. This is often made in defending an errant view of the Sovereignty of God. This we will address further in a moment. For now we need to also understand that the evil in this Isaiah passage is not speaking of moral evil but calamity of disaster. These types of things God has admitted to being the author and instigator of. God denies being the author of moral evil while showing He creates calamity on His disobedient children.

It is important to note that the use of the word evil is the Hebrew word r “ is used in scripture has many contexts and this Hebrew word translated in English as evil has a much broader range than our English version according to D.W.Baker in his article entitled “Evil” which can be found the book “Dictionary of the Old Testaments/Prophets” on page 194. This Hebrew word translated evil in English is found in contexts such as a description of food (Jeremiah 24:3; 29:17). It is also used in the context of wild dangerous animals (Ezekiel 5:17; 14:15). The reason it is used this way is because the word evil in Hebrew without any context simply speaks to that which is at the opposite end of good. J. Walls, in his article entitled “Evil” states that “evil refers to that which is opposed to good and the right” which can be found in the book titled Dictionary of the Old Testament/Historical Books pg. 272.

This Hebrew word r “ occurs as a verb; at times it occurs in the adjective form ra “. Other times it appears as a noun ra ‘a. Further it is important to note that sometimes the translation is used when describing a situation from man’s point of view. This is the case with Isaiah 45:7 where it is declared that God causes disaster. The use of the word here is indicating the terrible impact of a catastrophe. As Baker says we need to be very careful in determining which sematic nuance fits the context of the word.

Millard Erikson, in his book “Christian Theology pg. 544, declares it is not possible that God is the author of moral evil. James 1:13 that God does not do such a thing. So what we have discovered here is that evil in scripture does not have to mean a moral evil every time it is used or simply because it is used many times elsewhere in scripture. When we compare the scripture of James 1:13 to the scripture of Isaiah 45:7 we can determine that should the Isaiah passage mean a moral evil then we would have a conflict with the James 1 passage. The James passage is clear and the context of the Isaiah passage is as well. James says God cannot tempt man to sin, this is unambiguous. The Isaiah passage is also clear in that we can see God is declaring there is no such thing as any other God in reality and only He can bring judgement and disaster on people. The commentary of Barnes speaks to this issue this way:

“The parallelism here (Isaiah 45:7) shows that this is not to be understood in the sense of all evil, but of that which is the opposite of peace and prosperity. That is, God directs judgments, disappointments, trials, and calamities; he has power to suffer the mad passions of people to rage, and to afflict nations with war; he presides over adverse as well as prosperous events. The passage does not prove that God is the author of moral evil, or sin, and such a sentiment is abhorrent to the general strain of the Bible, and to all just views of the character of a holy God.”

Even while God is not the author of moral evil He most certainly remains sovereign over it. His primary source of control and sovereignty over evil is the cross of Jesus Christ. While God has given man the opportunity to choose the holiness of God or the moral evil of Satan (John 1:12) this alone shows God is not the author of moral evil and still remains sovereign over it. The ultimate control over evil is when Jesus died on the cross. Sin, Satan, and evil were defeated that day. Sin and moral evil cannot overcome the creator of the universe and all that is. God does not author moral evil and He is still in control.

 

More Inflammatory Rhetoric by Christians not Helpful

This is the second response to articles written about America dealing with Syrian Refugees. In response to his state’s Governors response to the refugees Pastor Alan Cross writes and article entitled “Considering the Facts: A Christian Response From Alabama to the Syrian Refugee Crisis“. A suggestion to him and anyone who may wish to dive into this issue. When you are criticizing someone make sure you have the correct facts. Especially when such a claim is made in your title. Pastor Cross does not have correct facts. Let me explain.

Because the Governor has rejected the unfettered access, by Syrian Refugees, to the state of Alabama pastor cross has engaged in inflammatory rhetoric by falsely accusing the Governor of “blame shifting”. He insists the Governor has shifted blame of terrorism from the terrorists to innocent refugees and in response he will not allow them into the state. He further uses unnecessary inflammatory rhetoric by accusing the Governor of have a “full motivation of fear”. This unChristian rhetoric is not helpful and the accusation are contrary to biblical Christian behavior.

Such accusations are not proven and Pastor Alan cannot know the Governors “full motivation” outside of the Governor saying so himself. This accusation does work to belittle and or demean the Governor and is not necessary. Further, accusation such as this can never be found to come from the Spirit of God be we do often discover this behavior from the great accuser. There is also no evidence that the Governor has blamed the refugees for anything. That is a false accusation and needs to be recanted in as public a way has he made the accusation.

Pastor Cross goes on to say that the refugees have already been vetted. This is false and has been refuted by the FBI Director himself when he said it is impossible to carefully vet every refugee coming into America. In fact not all refugees are even from Syria. They are swarming in from other countries such as Myanmar, Iraq, Somalia, Dem.Rep. of Congo, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Cuba, Ukraine, Burundi, Afghanistan, Ethiopia via Syria to come to the US. Everyone from the President to the Pastors need to settle down a bit and let’s be careful. The Obama admin is trying to ram these refugees down our throats

The Governors have asked for any background info this admin can give them on these refugees and this administration has refused to give it. In light of the hurry and lack of info the Governors have rightly taken a cautious approach to this. To quote Congressman Trey Gowdy “We do not need to make more orphan and widows in this country.

Quite frankly I am disappointed at the level of rhetoric about the very real fear people have about this situation. Why do Christians want to belittle genuine fear of terrorists coming into this country? This is not Christian behavior either. As far as using scripture to support ignoring the risks associated with taking in the refugees there is a huge problem. There is no scripture to support it. As someone I know recently asked someone who was doing the same demonization of Christians over this matter “would you let your daughter pick up a hitchhiker in the rain?” “Would you leave your doors unlocked at your home?” If not then you are being inconsistent. Either of those situation can be used as an outreach moment. We must act with caution and wisdom on this matter. Leave the hateful and inflammatory rhetoric to the world.